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Monday, May 20, 2019

Divrei Torah

For the Love of Wisdom

The midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 27) brings a story of Alexander of Macedonia who at that point had conquered the known civilized world and was now approaching a certain kingdom at the other end of the world. On his way there, he went to a certain province called Qartigna, which was comprised solely of women, and Alexander decided he

Pesach Sheini: Seeking Spiritual Food

Sir Moses and Lady Judith Montefiore went on their first long journey to Eretz Yisrael in 1827. On the way from Malta to Alexandria, Egypt, there was a major storm that threatened to capsize the boat. They said Tehillim fervently. The captain told everyone to prepare for the end! Finally, the Montefiores had a thought. By Italian

Sefirat HaOmer and Lag BaOmer

Ask the average yeshiva student what Sefirat HaOmer is all about. What do you think you will hear in reply? Typically, they will tell you that Sefirat HaOmer means “you can’t...” “You can’t shave. You can’t take a haircut. You can’t listen to live music. You can’t attend a wedding.” They also know that you have to

Reaching for the Stars

Adapted from the dvar Torah by Dean Rachel Friedman at Lamdeinu on Yom Ha’atzmaut 5779

In Bereishit 13:16, God promises Avraham numerous descendants using a graphic simile for extraordinary multiplication.

“And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth; just

Rav Itzeleh Volozhiner and the Bi’ur

Rav Itzeleh (Yitzchak) Volozhiner succeeded his father as rosh yeshiva of the premier yeshiva in Europe. A Torah scholar and famous orator, he also served as a leading representative of the Jews to the Russian Czar. Rav Itzeleh Volozhiner was royalty in the yeshiva world, the son of Rav Chaim Volozhiner with descendants that

Walking Out the Door of Religion

Parshat Emor portrays the scathing blasphemy of an unnamed Jew whose pedigree was questioned. This desecration of God’s name threatens communal sanctity, and the offender is publicly stoned. This entails the first moment a Jew willingly “abandoned“ religion. In the supernatural context of the desert, this decision is jarring,

The Forest or the Trees: Priorities in Torah Study

The third chapter of Pirkei Avot ends with a cryptic statement on the importance of various areas of study: “Rabbi Eliezer Chisma said: The laws of bird offerings (kinnin) and opening of niddah—these, these are the bodies of halachot (hen hen gufei halachot). Astronomical calculations (tekufot) and numerology (gematriot) are

Yom Ha’atzmaut: Redemption Under Construction

Repeatedly, Dovid Hamelech employs the metaphor of a tower or a fortress to portray redemption. This image of a tall edifice soaring above humanity aptly captures the power of redemption to reshape history. Beyond the metaphoric connotations of a tower, this image helps visualize the image of the Mikdash we all eagerly await. More

Still Cistern, Flowing Fountain

Those following the custom to study a chapter of Pirkei Avot every week between Pesach and Shavuot have a window this week into the beit midrash of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai. Pirkei Avot is organized according to the chain of tradition, with students cited after their teachers. But when it comes to Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, the

Bringing Ourselves Into Hashem’s Presence

This dvar Torah is dedicated l’ilui nishmas my grandmother, Mrs. Hansi Bodenheim, Genendal bas Shmuel, a”h, who just passed away on the 24th of Nisan.

Pesach ended with a heavy heart for Jews around the world as we were met with the horrific news of the attack on those davening in the Chabad

The Unimaginable Power of Encouragement

Bouncing off of last week’s topic about the importance of honoring another person and enhancing their esteem, an extremely practical and beneficial method of carrying that out in practice is through encouragement.

The Midrash Tanchuma (Kedoshim 9) relates a story: In a town, there was a spirit

Respect and Honor

In corporate America we adulate those who succeed in the “elevator pitch”—i.e., a very concise presentation of an idea covering all of its critical aspects and delivered within a few seconds. Headed to work one morning, I boarded the B44 at Nostrand Avenue and Kings Highway in the direction of Flatbush Junction. Sitting